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Millions vote in phase-1 Gujarat polls

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Millions voted on Thursday in India's Gujarat where Chief Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a big win to spur his prime ministerial ambitions, 10 years after anti-Muslim riots on his watch.

Crowds thronged polling stations in the first of two rounds of voting in the western state, one of India's fastest developing regions that has been run since 2001 by Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Polling officials said over 10 million people out of the 38-million-strong electorate had cast their ballots in the first seven hours, amid reports that many more were still queuing up at voting centres.

‘A BJP storm’

"It is a BJP storm in Gujarat," Modi announced at an election rally in the state's Siddhpur region. "Wherever there is voting, records of all previous polls have been broken," he told cheering supporters.

Modi, who has secured thumping victories in the last two polls, is looking to secure another sizeable majority for the BJP to bolster his reputation, which was stained by religious riots in Gujarat in 2002.

Though he has never declared his ambition to be prime minister, his desire for the top spot in his party is an open secret and he is widely thought to be angling to lead the BJP into national elections due in 2014.


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